ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Two Naval Academy Midshipmen competed in the Arrowhead 135-Mile Ultra Marathon on the Arrowhead Trail near International Falls, Minn., Jan. 30-Feb 1.
Midshipman 1st Class Ted Murner finished fourth place out of 51 runners, completing the race in just under 45 hours. Midshipman 1st Class Matthew Desrosiers also finished the race within the 60-hour time limit set by race officials.
"It was a surprise. I didn't really know I was in fourth until the 110 mile mark when some of my crew met me at the checkpoint," said Murner. "I had no idea I was going to do that well."
Murner continued running at night, allowing him to pass up runners who were stopping to rest. He only slept once and only for 45 minutes, he said.
The race is sponsored by the Arrowhead Ultra Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of human-powered ultra-endurance events in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota. Contestants choose prior to the race start whether to complete the 135-mile course on foot, bike or skis while also dragging a sled with supplies.
Required supplies included a sleeping bag, tent, a day's worth of food and 32 ounces of water plus the necessary cold weather clothing, totaling 40-50 pounds of gear.
Both Midshipmen are on the Naval Academy marathon team and are used to long races. Murner completed a 100 mile race last February, and Desrosiers said his longest race until the Arrowhead Ultra was 62 miles.
"A lot of us will sort of zone out for a good amount of time, maybe a marathon distance or 50-mile distance, but after that I found that I really had to keep my mind going, especially at night," said Murner.
When you're on the trail that long, you "think about everything," said Desrosiers. "This was definitely the most mentally as well as physically draining race. There are a lot of alone sections when you just get sick of seeing the trail, and that's all there is."
Desrosiers said that he found encouragement in thinking about others he's known who have finished the 135-mile race.
"I wanted to be someone who's also done it," he said. "I don't like quitting."
"A big motivation for me was that people I know are expecting me to finish," said Murner. "You don't want to disappoint anyone.
"After it's done, there's a big sense of accomplishment," he said. "It's something you've never done before that most people won't ever do. For me, it gave me some confidence going into the training I'm going to be going into after school."
Both Midshipmen have been selected into the Navy Seal program.
Maj. Brian Chontosh, 8th company officer, also ran in the race and Midshipman 1st Class John McDonough served as crew.
In previous years, Midshipmen used the race as a platform to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that provides educational funding to children of special operations service members who have lost their lives in combat or training evolutions. The race officials have since adopted this cause and now all of profits from the race are donated to the foundation.
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